Interviewsituation zum Audi Virtual Training

Am I still playing or am I already learning?

Gamification in professional training: the Audi Virtual Training

Car salesman as a dream job? Never. At least, that was my opinion until Christiane Nicolai, responsible for training in service and dealer development, introduced me to the Audi Virtual Training. Discover how Audi trains employees in partner companies – including myself – the fun way.

Christiane Nicolai zeigt auf Tablet Bestandteile des Spiels, im Hintergrund Spielcharaktere auf Bildschirm
Learning while gaming? That's the approach Christiane Nicolai and her team are pursuing with the Audi Virtual Training. It's build like a video game and conveys conversational competencies to the employees.

My avatar is Louis Lamar, who has lost his memory after a severe accident. I only know that he likes cars and works in an Audi branch office. During the game’s process, I walk around freely in the car dealership, carrying out customer meetings and employee talks and parallel to his everyday work life, find out more details about his life. When I’m in a conversational situation, I receive a selection of four or five answers and I then have to choose one of those within a certain time span. Every answer changes the following course of conversation.

Everyday work life means: psychologically demanding talks and the thrill whether the customer is open to my advertisements and my sales strategy. In several conversational situations, I’m sure that the client will take the bait. But I’ve acted too aggressively. In the second round, I’m trying to find out what happens when I make the customer furious – the contact is soon gone, just like in real life. “I’ve surely held more than a hundred conversations – none was like the other,” Lekies explains.

Fabian Lekies zeigt Audi Blog-Autor Andreas Wittke das Spiel zum Audi Virtual Training

Similar to real life: The software behind the game has been engineered with a lot of detail and enables employees like Fabian Lekies to conduct realistic customer and employee talks.

A glimpse into game development: a photorealistic open world and a responsive design

Developers from five well-known gaming agencies have been working on the Audi Virtual Training since 2014. The photorealistic open world gaming concept and the implementation of realistic conversational situations from everyday work life in sales and service, require a high degree of technical expertise and data-related precision. The questions and answers are derived from real conversations and actual customer feedback from the Audi car dealerships. Open world means that I can, as a gamer and through the perspective of a service adviser or sales assistant, move freely through the dealership and talk to all the people in it.

"The game is demanding and no walk in the park. You have to put yourself in the customer’s position and think very psychologically."

Fabian Lekies, employee in an Audi car dealership in Munich

The customers not only look surprisingly real, they also react very humanly in terms of their facial expressions and gestures. For example, one customer crosses her arms and looks at me disapprovingly, after I’ve given her an answer that she doesn’t want to hear. The conversations don’t appear stilted or artificial. “I had already experienced some of the situations in previous customer talks. Back then, the Audi Virtual Training would have been helpful”, Lekies tells us with a smile.

Flexible as well as independent of time and space – the employees cannot only use the Audi Virtual Training during their working hours, but also play on their tablet or smartphone or even from home. The biggest focus was set on a responsive design. This means that the game is designed for all (mobile) devices.

Now available in Audi Virtual Training: “Playing the boss” with feedback management

A few weeks ago, the module “Feedback Management” was added. The player has the opportunity to play the service manager and to hold feedback sessions with the employees regarding difficult customer situations. “That’s super exciting and helps a lot with the real employee talks,” Lekies confirms. “It’s a real milestone for our training aspirations”, Christiane Nicolai explains enthusiastically.

The theme in professional trainings: Gamification

The inherent play instinct of every human and the corresponding intrinsic motivation eases the learning of complex topics. Everybody knows how easily a computer game may enthrall you. This principle of the gamification approach was seized by Audi, facilitates the professional training of employees in the car dealership and challenges their ambition. The aim is them wanting to do the (optional) training, not them having to participate. “Trainings are meant to be fun, otherwise they won’t work”, as Nicolai has experienced before.

Audi-Blogautor Andreas Wittke bekommt das Spiel gezeigt
Professional training in times of digitization: The interactive Audi Virtual Training can be used independent of time and location, motivates employees with game elements and thus complements traditional training formats.

The background story: Virtual training as an addition to training courses

The Audi world is becoming more and more complex: the customer’s requirements are rising; the digitalization opens up new challenges on all channels. “With the game, our employees learn to react better to the individual customer needs and to put them into the center of their actions. Because only those that are excited about their jobs, are able to excite the customer. That’s where the Audi Virtual steps in and helps: The interactive training world continues where traditional training formats stop and reach their limit,” Nicolai explains.

"Audi is the only car manufacturer that has realized such a game for the smartphone."

Project leader Christiane Nicolai

More than 550 partners and car dealerships have already booked the Audi Virtual Training; it has been activated on 137 of 340 devices. “We’re receiving very good feedback. The participants like to play and learn and that was and is our most important wish”, Nicolai says, clearly overjoyed by the reactions on the Audi Virtual Training.

My amibition has been activated

The game is also fun for me and I’m surprised how quickly I’m adapting to the world of a service adviser and learn more subconsciously. After every round, I receive an analysis of my performance in the form of points and star ratings, but also a detailed feedback on the reaction of the person opposite I triggered as well as additional tips and recommendations. I’m worse than I suspected and that really annoys me. I want to continue playing instantly to become better. Christiane Nicolai sees that and reacts with a knowing smile – her concept has worked out just fine.

Audi Virtual Training: New gamification learning concept in the digital car dealership
Audi MediaCenter

Audi Virtual Training: New gamification learning concept in the digital car dealership

Gain experience the fun way: In Audi Virtual Training, service and dealership employees practice optimal behavior in customer contact. During the two-hour training session, they are confronted in the virtual dealership by demanding customers, surprising reactions and complex situations. Audi is a pioneer in the automotive trade when it comes to virtual training. Around 570 partner businesses in Germany already make use of the training program. 

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